I had always been different. I knew that and had accepted it early in life.
It wasn't just that I had a rather unusual name- Seriously, who names their kid Selene Isabelle Delahan?- or my physical appearance (I was the palest person I knew). It was something atypical, something that had always fascinated me.
Now, I know I'm not supposed to be interested in them. Yes, they suck blood. Talk about disgusting! Yes, they aren't exactly the friendliest people around, apparently. But who really has stayed around long enough to really check? And yes, they technically are evil and conniving and human-hating. I'm not really sure about that one.
Maybe it was because I had eccentric parents. Nola (short for Granola, I'm not kidding) and Howard, my parents, were ex-hippies. You know, the people who wear tie dye and believe in peace and stuff? Well, those are my parents for you!
Maybe it was because of my cousin, Megan, who got Marked when she was my age. She grew up to complete the Change, but then she abandoned us, her human family, and started life on her own. Now the only times I see her are when she's in movies.
So, I was thrilled when my hippies told me that we were moving to Chicago, where it was known that there was a House of Night, one of their awesome schools. I was hoping to finally see a vampyre, or at least a fledgling, in real life.
I started to take drastic measures, in hoped of being Marked. I started trying to stay up at night as much as I could. I incorporated more black into my wardrobe (Who knew if it helped?). I researched as much as I could on the topic, from diet and exercise programs to the actual Marking process. Heck, I even started secretly worshiping Nyx. That was my obsession for awhile.
One normal Thursday night, I was taking a midnight stroll in the park when I saw this awesome, drop-dead gorgeous guy leaning against a bench and smiling. But he wasn't a normal guy.
He was a vampyre.
I could tell by his super-cool sapphire Mark. I was practically jumping up and down with delight when he said, "Selene Delahan! Night has chosen thee; thy death will be thy birth. Night calls thee; hearken to her sweet voice. Your destiny awaits you at the House of Night!"
Then I braced myself for the sharp pain that was going to ram into my forehead. He raised his finger, and for a second I almost thought that he shot a lightning bolt at me. Then I passed out.
I was standing in front of a humongous, black and silver castle at nighttime. There was a small moat between myself and the door/drawbridge/thing, so I mentally decided to turn around and walk back. Then the drawbridge lowered, and I saw a very bleak decoration scheme. Black is too cliche, in my opinion. The only reason I ever wore it was in case it helped me be Marked!
As it always was in dreams, I really couldn't control my actions. I walked into the castle, and then the next thing I knew I was in a sort of throne room. I looked up at the throne.
Perched on it was a beautiful, smiling young woman.
"Nyx," I said happily. "Thank you for having Chosen me."
She laughed lightly, and I took notice of her to-die-for black hair. My hair was brown with hints of blonde, and incredibly wavy and out of control, even though it touched my waist. Hers was sleek and straight. She said, "Daughter, you are special and I want you to know that. I have Marked you because I know you can help change things. It is a very hard time for my children, Lenie." She used the nickname my mom used to call me when I was little, which added to her already high comfort level. "You believed in me, even as a human. I see that you are different than the others." My feet carried me to her throne, and she kissed my forehead and ran her finger over it. "Help restore balance. Just as you believed in me, so I believe in you."
Then I guess I woke up.
I had been at a park, but I was most certainly not where I had been.
"Thank the gods!" I heard my mom exhale. "Howard, she's awake!"
My eyes opened fully, and I smiled. "Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad. Where am I?" It seemed an odd question for a fourteen-year-old to ask, but these were extenuating circumstances.
"You're at the House of Night, Moon," Dad said, using the weird hippie nickname I never really liked.
"I... I am?"
Someone smiling stepped into view, and for a moment I thought it was Nyx. But then my common sense took over. The woman had long, blonde hair, dark eyes, and a very cool Mark that consisted of dark blue feather-like patterns.
"Hello, Selene. I am Angelique, the High Priestess of the House of Night."
"Um, hello." I still was slightly shaken up from my totally peculiar vision thingie.
"What is happening to my daughter's Mark?" Mom said frantically. What?
"I do not know, Mrs. Delahan," said Angelique.
"Please call me Nola. Anyway, why is it branching out like that? And why is it silver?" Silver?! Marks were sapphire! What was happening?!
Angelique handed me a hand mirror, and I looked at my reflection and was shocked.
"I'm not a full vampyre, am I?"
"I don't believe so, but these things can be tricky. Do you feel any different?"
"A little, I guess." Not only was my Mark now branched out in a swirly pattern in the rough shape of butterfly wings, but it was also silver. Except the filled-in crescent moon, which was still blue.
"Excuse me, Mr. and Mrs. Delahan. I need to get one of our professors. Feel free to wait here for a few minutes." Angelique nodded at us and left the room quickly.
My mom crossed the room to me and put her hand on my face. "Oh, honey, we're so happy for you! We know how much you've always wanted to be Marked!"
Dad went to stand next to her. "Yep. We brought all your stuff for you, so don't worry."
I smiled. Even though my parents were hippies and a little more than bizarre, they still cared.
Mom added, "And you're officially an adult now!"
"What? I'm only fourteen! I'm not an adult! I can't even drive yet!" I sat up, and found that I had slight head-rush. I wondered how long I had been sleeping.
"Actually, as soon as a child is Marked, the government recognizes them as an adult." My mom smoothed my hair from my forehead.
"Wow. That's cool."
Angelique returned with a young-looking, kinda-but-not-really hot vampyre guy and this other vampyre woman. "Selene, Mr. and Mrs. Delahan, I want you all to meet Professor Philip Kiel. He teaches Literature, but he has a rare gift of finding the gifts in others."
"What do you mean?" my dad asked.
Professor Kiel said in a rather high voice for a man, "Well, I know other people's affinities and such." He turned to me, and looked really focused at my Mark. "Selene Delahan. You can influence people around you."
"What?" my parents and I all asked at the same time.
"I believe comic books call it 'mind control'." Huh?